(Source: By dpa, Hamburg, Germany (MCT) – Yangon (dpa) – The World Bank on Wednesday opened an office in Yangon after a 25-year absence in Myanmar, pledging to initially concentrate on grants for poor communities.
“We are committed to eradicating poverty and the new office opening in Myanmar will allow us to reach some of the poorest people in East Asia,” World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said.
The bank is seeking approval from its board to supply 85 million dollars in initial grants to poor rural communities in Myanmar to support development programs, on the condition that the government agrees to repay its arrears to the bank next year.
Myanmar has only recently seen the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by Western democracies.
“The needs of the people are great, and the World Bank Group is working with partners to support government reforms that will improve people’s lives, especially the poor and vulnerable,” World Bank vice president for East Asia and Pacific Pamela Cox said.
The bank ceased operations in Myanmar, also called Burma, in 1987 when the government stopped making debt payments to the institution.
Myanmar would have access to interest-free loans from the bank’s International Development Association after it clears arrears of 397 million dollars, the bank said.
The US and European Union earlier this year partially lifted their sanctions in response to the political and economic reforms pushed through by President Thein Sein.
Myanmar has been under nominal civilian rule since the November 2010 election ended the rule of the military junta since 1988.
The Asian Development Bank was also to open an office in Yangon on Wednesday. Its lending activities will also be limited until Myanmar repays an estimated 500 million dollars in arrears to that bank.
©2012 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services